The months of February and March mark the days of Lent for many Catholics across the country and is the perfect time to develop a Lent menu for your business. According to Datassential, 26% of all consumers observe Lent and 41% of those consumers eat fish on Fridays instead of meat. So if meatless offerings aren’t on your menu, you’re missing out big time! In today’s blog we have four easy marketing tips to promote your restaurant's Lent menu and drive some meatless sales this season.
Now is the time to try new items. Be innovative and look beyond just fish and chips and salmon. Try items like crab cakes, lobster or even sushi if it fits within your brand. See what sells and what doesn’t, ask for feedback from customers and even encourage plate sharing. Why, you ask? Your Lent menu is going to be for a limited time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find something popular and grow it into a full-time signature menu item. You’ll want to be sure to take extra time to track and watch sales of your new menu items. With any luck, you’ll see strong sale trends on a couple of your new menu items and will be able to justify adding them full-time to your menu or as a weekly special.
Ok, you’ve built up an innovative menu and you’re ready to start tracking sales. Now how do you get people to know about this great lent menu? Social media is an easy and cheap (if not free) way to promote your lent menu. If you’re already active on social media, start promoting your new menu with high quality photos of the new items and creative hashtags like #jointhegrouper, #fishfridays or #eatmorefish. Additionally you can promote special pricing or coupons to your social media follwoers as a special thank for being a fan of your business.
Sometimes making the sale is all about how you describe the product. For example would you rather eat a chicken tender with bbq sauce, or a juicy fresh fried chicken tender tossed in a special blend of artisanal seasonings served with a house-made smoky barbeque sauce?
The more appetizing you can make your descriptions the better. And don’t forget to include all of your 2016 buzz words – “local,” “fresh,” “artisanal,” “sustainable,” etc. While it may seem a little over the top, describing your lent menu in a way that appeals to the masses is going to make a huge impact on potential sales.
It may seem obvious, but reaching out to local Catholic churches to advertise within their bulletin or with fliers can be a very successful way to spread the good news about your Lent menu. Marilyn Nicholson, Vice president of Media & Promotions for Long John Silver's, suggests special Lent coupon books and flyers promoting family-style meals to drive sales from churches. Even a frequent fish-eater discount-card is viable if you want to promote repeat business. The key is to remain creative while being respectful of a religion over 66 million Americans practice.
Getting customers hooked on your Lent menu is a solid strategy for driving future repeat business. All you need to get started is a solid plan and access to some meat-free items, so what are you waiting for?